Donnerstag, 24. Dezember 2009

Heilige Nacht or Silent Night

HO HO HO! the last window panes in the parents house that are only one layer thick! it went about 10 C this last week and the frost was so pretty.
31 weeks today!
Merry Christmas to all!!
wow, its been a while, too much time since i last updated. somehow between daily yoga and meals and sleep this gets forgotten.
a few interesting things i am noting recently: in germany, christmas day is two days long here, official holiday is 24 afternoon-27! and all businesses will be closed for the next four days...i cant imagine that happening in the usa. we found wool bodys and socks and leggings for baby at dm, a relatively inexpensive bath/body/health shop and got really excited when we found cute wood fish and whale toys too.
baby names...the whole idea is rather overwhelming for me right now, and we need to get started...viviane and micah as still at the top (or only yet) for me.
a sad thing, i cant get vanilla extract in germany. there is vanilla sugar and vanilla powder and vanilla fragrance, but no extract. it seems based on my google questioning others have had previous difficulty with this too. i will have to remember this next time we are back!

the last few days have brought snow and beautiful distinction to every bare tree around. i love how each limb and small branch is outlined in the bright grey/white color where once was complete brown and black. so beautiful!! sometimes when there is a crooked tree you can observe which direction the snow has come from and see how the tree cradles the remaining snow clinging to its thick bark.
The last few weeks we have attended parties in Koeln for Ralfs drumming groups, Samba and Conga, and i went to practice with them tuesday night. With ear plugs, i felt like i could hear what maybe baby hears, or at least sort of, and every step i took sounded echo-y. The drumming was fun and pretty easy to catch on to. All of the people i have met are really nice, and we stayed over last friday night so ralf could drink all the gluten free beer he wanted and hang out early into the morning...wher as i get tipsy around midnight and decided "my pumpkin is going to burst i gotta go!" i find no desire to stay up late. not like i ever did really, but even more so now.

i cut off most of my hair this week, i felt finished with the shoulder length. i think i just like short hair! everyone kept asking, oh wont you be cold? no! i am so hot all the time!

Last week, we got the tests back from the labs where ralf had his blood and stool sent for finding out what might be causing the challenging rashes, migraines and heartburn. We got the results back and were pretty overwhelmed by the amount of allergic reacting things he was consuming on a regular basis...
the list is:
all gluten-wheat, spelt kamut, cous cous, wild rice, all of it...
Casein- all milk proteins-cheese, butter and types-goat, sheep and horse too
and much less but some reaction to beer yeast, almonds and mustard seed
so what can he eat? meat, veggies, most fruits, and the grains like rice , lentils, quinoa, beans, teff, buckwheat, millet ect.
so the holidays for mo milk no eggs and no gluten is becoming a new challenge, and rather difficult at that... when we dont want to use margarine and soy in cooking...
gluten, milk, egg free christmas cookies!
and eating out is really really challenging as we found out last week. i wanted mexican food, but we found out when we started eating it had cheese in it, and made ralf feel so sick the next day and have red rashes...

today i was laughing as ralf had a hand over my belly button and it moves so much in and out. the parents here dont think i am going to make it until march, they think my belly is too big already for so much longer...which is funny to me, we will see. i dont care when it comes, i want it to be ready and say im coming mom! yoga helps so much with my lower back which acts up sometimes alot, when i walk or sit for too long. so lots of everything!opening up my hips with deep squats is also so helpful and bending over seated on the ground is also sooo good feeling!
tomorrow all of ralfs siblings and families will be here for the whole day, i think 16 people! and Dini is cooking for them all...we will see where we can help, she does so much work around here, and is so pleasant to be with!
almost forgot, we went out into the forest to find a christmas tree, because you can legally cut them down, and i was so surprised at how slim all of them were, compared to the trees you would buy. i am curious what is done to make them so full and have such sturdy needles.

love and joy!

Mittwoch, 2. Dezember 2009

floating along

Over the last few weeks my sensations of the world have felt rather up and down. A few weeks ago, feeling like we would never be able to get work, ralf found and contacted a horse and bio cattle farm in the north of germany, about 5 hours drive. we went for the weekend to check it out and meet the people, everything felt right with the work, but the housing situation was quite the opposite. it would be living in the upstairs part of a house owned by an alcoholic man, without a door for privacy to our living quarters. we both felt this was not workable for our situation, and as the house is 5 or so min. from the farm, it made me feel trapped and really alone.
we talked about maybe having other possibilities but they said this was the only thing right now. we even started looking about and into buying a home. but it felt way to sudden and i didnt like the area very much, the area was a cookie cutter house suburb, with red bricks. gloomy and dead. i couldnt imagine buying a house to pay off for the next 10 years with such feelings. we would also be so far from ralfs parents, who i have grown to really enjoy over the last few months, and our incredible midwife, Angela.
some positives were that it is in the same area as many biodynamic, demeter farms where i could complete my apprenticeship in the next few years, and that the people ralf would work for seem friendly and open, giving decent pay for the work he would be doing, cleaning out horse stalls and managing the land- feeding and watering all the animals. but overall, it didnt feel right, and i ended up completely breaking down on the drive back south, feeling overwhelmed and not comfortable with this move. so we decided against it after a few more days of looking at the pros and cons and feeling like there were way to many cons to move so far for a 'good paying job'. i feel like we really know what we want and are looking for in life, and have had enough bad experiences with other set ups.
last week we finally were able to get my living/ working permit from the government, but the mad in this region is so rude and seems to hate his job so much, he only would give me a 1 year visa. he said that i would need to come back and "if i was being good, he would extend it", such shit. i am required to take the integration language course, but am given by the state up to 2 years to even start it, and after asking the man he even said it would probably be best to wait and start the course after the birth. the person working in the other region was so much more happy and open to helping us. ralf says that thats how it is, if a person working for the state hates their job, they will make whatever you have to do or ask for hell for you. it makes me want to move out of this region so we dont have to work with this man any longer. i can work in germany though! which means i can finally register and be paid for being pregnant, and receive government money. we registered with the unemployment region and had a meeting yesterday for ralf, and one tomorrow for me regarding what type of work we can take, and if there is not work, then the state gives us money to live. Because ralf does not have a certificate of apprenticeship for organic farming, he cannot take many jobs in alternative farming practices. as we talked about it last night, it makes no sense to "fight" this system thing and if that is necessary for farming organically in germany, why not do it. it means that we will have very little, and that for 3 years he makes another apprenticeship, and when i feel ready, i can continue to finish my education as well. but being in one place, and for us both being on a organic farm is what we want, this seems best if we can get a job right now doing this. we have no money to start a farm, which would be delightful in the future, but for this time, it really feels best to start looking at this as our best option...tbc
a few things on german life...there are so many more accidents and road construction detours on highways here than in the us, its so crazy! and trucks making huge problems with traffic for running off the road. after driving across the us, and comparing the two, we maybe had 3 accidents or traffic incidents that slowed us down. and the roads are so much better on us highways too. we have at least 2-3 times in a 1-2 hour drive where we have to slow down alot, or even stop for long periods of time.
Weihnachtmarkts(christmas markets) are a really popular thing during this time of year. especially in big cities. Koeln has 7 different ones, 4 of which we visited last week. there are lots of booths selling anything and everything, some things are really creative and reminded me of some of the artistic scope at the fremont market in seattle. it made me miss seattle alot and all of my friends. this has sent me on a rather strong sensation of wow i dont have friends here and really want to find people to be with. so hopefully soon. i love ralfs parents and making jokes with them, but find myself also totally wishing i was able to share my growing belly and life energy with other young people too.
accordion playing is going well, mary had a little lamb is great, with the bass too! now starting to want more and more...
i started a knitting project, after a long hiatus, making slippers for ralf as a simple present. when they are finished, i will felt them too. i am in love with felting arts. and keep finding incredible artists who i would love to work with and learn from. unfortunately the directions are in german, so i am getting help from ralf and his mother.

at 28 weeks tomorrow, i feel really good during the day most of the time and have back pain most of the night, making sleep restless sometimes and turning every few hours. and really crazy dreams every night. sometimes with pirates or the moon but with family members and friends weaving in and out of them.

pictures coming later, maybe.

Mittwoch, 18. November 2009

Since moving back to Woelferlingen, we were able to attend the start of carnival- the 11.11. at 11am in Koeln with lots of crazy drunk singing and dancing people. i liked it overall, but not when we first arrived and walked through really dense crowded areas and i thought i was going to loose it, too much close contact to lots of smoking drunk people laughing about the swine flu and pushing to get through to where ever they wanted to drink their next beer. so crazy!! but the colors and creativity people had was refreshing. and watching from a distance was a much better fit for me after seeing at maximum maybe 50 people around the towns where we live, thousands and thousands was a bit much.
ralfs siblings seem to be going crazy with the whole swine flu scare here. most of them want to get the vaccination and one of his brothers has the flu but will find out tomorrow if it is the regular or special variety. another woman i am in contact with said the boy living next door to them got the swine flu and is recovering well. i am so curious with the scare this is seeming to make what the outcome will be. more jobs available? population control? i keep hearing all these crazy things about what is happening in the usa, and how many people are dying there, people lining up to get drive through vaccinations ect. i am not so worried one way or the other. i dont fear death but especially as all of nature is returning to death and darkness i find it all to be a part of the cycle we follow in life.
Here are some pictures from the last weeks:

Dini and i, 26 weeks!
so dika!

my thoughts bring to mind a semblance of Pocahontas and john smith?
more clowns
ralf drumming with the samba group, with fairy princes dancing around

clowning around
isnt his hair so great!??

Montag, 9. November 2009

moving back

Hi all,
over the weekend we came to the conclusion it would be better to live with ralfs parents again for a while until we can find somewhere more suitable for us. Ralf has had a very difficult time working for the man we were renting from and felt stressed out and controlled all of the time, during work and free time. so we search for another place and moved everything back to his parents at:
Rotenhainer Str. 13
56244 Woelferlingen
we will have any post sent to us there from Holzhausen, but it wont start till next week.

i feel alittle disappointed in all of this, because i want to settle down and be in one place so badly until the birth, and i love the midwife we found, but the man is so controlling and creepy, i dont feel safe or trust him at all. ralf parents at least have an attitude of love and welcome us fully to be as long as we want, but there are many reasons to have our own space. i get to learn more german here too!
so different from the experience at camphill, where i didnt feel like i had to lock doors or fear someone would enter without asking into my private space.

we had a really wonderful conversation for a few hours last week with the midwife about moving that brought up alot of things for myself i am still processing, and hope for finding a better perfect place for the two of us to be.
we found a job working at a nature park(zoo) but they want to find a new animal and garden tender in january now, so no longer an option...
we go to register once again in Selters, at the district office and continue the search for something better.

my practicing on the accordion is coming along, i am learning mary had a little lamb and working hard to be able to use both hands doing such different things at the same time!! its so fun!! baby kicks all the time and i am pretty sure knows ralf is its papa because it gets really excited and kicks more when it hears his voice!
love and peace

Montag, 2. November 2009

music makes life beautiful!

Some updates from the past week or so...

Halloween in germany is a relatively new thing. kids come dressed up to the door and ask sweet or sour? and if you dont give them something sweet, ralfs dad said something about them slapping or hitting or doing something 'sour' back. so its not really common. its more common to revere the day of the dead and care for graves of loved ones on the 1st of november.

We went to visit Katie in Douai last weekend and fell in love with this northern city of France and i fell in love with the belfry of the city. In the top of it rests a 62 bell carillon, that plays such delicate and pretty chimes. try finding a you tube video of it, the sound is so great! we had a lovely time with katie walking around and seeing her life teaching english in middle schools.

when we went to see ralfs parents on saturday, we also picked up some of his many drums so he can start practicing for November 11th, the official beginning of Carnival in Koeln. its going to be crazy!! we also figured that if the baby comes on time or later, we will also be able to go to the carnival in koeln this coming february and experience this rich tradition, dancing and making music and partying in the streets, i think i will paint my big belly too. maybe its too cold? we will see.

along with the drums we picked up ralfs grandfathers ACCORDION!! from the 1950's as i have always wanted to learn this instrument and have time to do so right now. its so beautiful and not to big for me or my belly! it has a lovely sound. i asked if i could by one i saw for sale last week as i was missing france and ralf said 'oh! we have one already!!'
i can play the notes for jingle bells as of today!

also, not related to music, we are realizing this is really not a healthy place to be living for us as the man ralf works for/rents us the place is super controlling and really crazy. His support of gun use for protection, his ideas to put up cameras so that 'big brother is watching everything' and his fear of every person makes this place feel very uncomfortable for me and ralf. even in the work ralf does, the man doesnt like to throw anything away, even if its broken or rotting and says oh i can use it for something else. but he has three houses/barns full of stuff that i really dont think anyone will ever use. i want and need to have a freezer to start making chicken and beef stock, meals to pull out easily that are healthy and good so i dont spend so much time cooking, especially as the due date gets nearer. so how much longer we will be here is unsure. but finding a job is the difficult part right now and we will start doing more intensive searching over the next few weeks. while everything is still so expensive there are very few jobs available.

the midwife came over on wednesday and took my blood, to get a mutter pass, a required document to get money from the state and other agencies. i cant remember the last time i had my blood taken! its been so long!! we also heard the heart beat from the umbilical cord and from the back. very strong and fast compared to my much slower pulse. baby is kicking strong and hard letting its presence be know all the time. it makes me giggle sometimes how funny it feels! the care and freedom i feel during pregnancy is so great. i just watched this video and encourage you to as well- it makes me so angry there is not wide spread knowledge of the safety of homebirth and midwifery care.

hopefully my visa will come in the next few weeks?!! until then i am happy learning a new instrument with a beautiful sound.


Freitag, 23. Oktober 2009

recent pictures

We are taking off for France to visit Katie tomorrow morning and wanted to get these up before we left...
the pictures go from bottom to top!
from a few days ago, 22 weeks on thursday

planting the garlic among the strawberries
can you see our house behind me? the quince tree we transplanted from the koeln garden is to the right
3rd stage planting!! transplanting strawberries, raspberry canes curve toward the left

2nd stage, plowing the yard with the handy all in one! it can be a lawn mower, plow, and snow plow too!
ralf cutting the grass low, right outside of our door, this will be the future herb/flower garden!
our first real guests! oma(dini) and opa(rolf) sandrock
this is at Ralf's parents house, a few weeks ago, maybe 19 weeks?

Donnerstag, 22. Oktober 2009

Finding a Caregiver

Last night Ralf and i went to a midwives home where she was giving an information session about who she is. we thought oh maybe we can just sit in the back and listen and maybe talk to her afterwards. it turned out we were the only ones that came and it was perfect because the three of us talked. we chose her because with two other midwives in the area she speaks english. we had some great laughs over things neither ralf or her could explain or translate. the more we talked together the more impressed and excited i was about finding and meeting with this woman. Her name is Angela Lindo and has been practicing for over 30 years. Right now she is writing her masters thesis (at an age of 50) so she can teach in universities to the next generation of midwives. She had hundreds of books to read over the next few months before she presents it. She and her retired husband also help take care of children whose parents need to get back on their feet or are not allowed to have their children due to reasons concerning the police or gov. So currently a 5 mo baby 12 and 17 yo live with them. Their hearts as a couple and love for children, mothers, families is quite incredible.
I started telling her about how i view birth and how safe and trusting i feel with the ability my body has and that i am open and curious about this process, experiencing it, and the desire i have to be a midwife as well. The longer we talked and she shared her background and experiences the more both of us felt this is an incredible fit. we love her. Her studies in spirituality and in meditation also brought great relief to me, feeling also with her perceptions on lotus birth and unassisted birth that this is the perfect caregiver for us. she also told us that she has had other couples desiring unassisted birth ask her to come and read a book in the kitchen, being there if her help was wanted but allowing this sexual experience to be fully a couples own as well. We were ecstatic as we left her, oh and she passed on to us 3 boxes of cotton diapers with linings saying that another mother had given them to her hoping another family could use them too!
This brought such a relief to stress that i realized has been building up here because we didnt know about the rules or requirements of becoming parents in germany, what we had to do ect. She was so helpful to explain nothing. if you feel you need something there are lots of people you can see, but what is the feeling you have? she asked. She said she can give us a "mutter pass" pass for mothers, that allows you to receive financial help and earn a monthly stipend for having a child. i am so excited and thankful i dont have to do any harmful or invasive tests or examinations. it is perfect for our situation and she is also very close, only 11 km or so from us!

Dienstag, 13. Oktober 2009

Moving in

Lots of changes!!
we moved in a weeks ago yesterday to the lower part of this old house from the 1600's, which has a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping/everything else space. The first project is to restore and fix up what will be our bedroom, and working on getting as much done outside before the winter hits, as the place has alot of potential, but needs so much work.
we have been ok-ed to have a veggie garden, an herb and medicinal plant garden, goats, chickens, bees, pretty much whatever we want as long as ralf works 7 hours M-F. the last week has been filled with unpacking, moving in and figuring all of everything out.
we went to the residence permit place yesterday and were heartily welcomed to the broader community of Nastaetten, told our marriage certificate looked like we printed it our selves, or got it from a western shop, but ok we will accept it...then had to drive to the immigration office in Bad Ems to start the next process of making sure i am legal and received notice that within 4-6 weeks i will receive a 3 year residence permit for germany, allowing me to start the learning german course!!
but i feel really lonely. its a new feeling to only have one other person to talk to and relate with and not be able to really connect with others. the village people here seem nice, but i find myself not wanting to speaks english and show i dont know the language yet. and i would love for the language course to start asap. even already though i understand alot and am able to follow some conversations. its helpful to know my ease at languages is not lost.
ralf cut the grass on the triangle patch outside our front door where we will have the future herb garden. we will plow and plant garlic there for the winter. i am glad to be close to outdoor work again and am really excited that ralf has a job doing work outside, without having to drive somewhere really far. it will make childcare exchanging and parenting much more fluid.
i am setting up skype and new microphone so if you have some time that is free it would be lovely to talk over the "phone" with you!
love and peace,

Freitag, 2. Oktober 2009

Last few weeks have felt a sort of floating and eating and not really knowing where everything is going. finding work in germany, the germany i thought would be DEMETER and biodynamics is really not that much better than mainstream america. maybe it is worse, as farmers here are being wiped out. finding work, biodynamic apprenticing or even just on a farm earning money and finding a place to stay not just for a few months, but that we would like to stay longer, is really difficult. i am happy to say as we traveled across the us, i found alot of organic farmers, and farmers markets where you can buy good food. its hard to get, or far driving to buy.
We found a raw goat milk about 45 min from us and have been getting milk from them now, its so good. In seattle we payed 9-10 dollars for a 1/2 gallon of goat milk and the worth of the milk is much less in germany-only 2 Euro about 3.5 dollars. cows milk is even worse. a farmer, organic, will get about 40 cents a liter and conventional farmers only 20 cents, making the price and worth of usa milk about 3-4 times of german milk. there are alot of demonstrations about this to the government, where milk is being poured out on the street, making ponds and lakes in front of the buildings. crazy hu?
and buying baby clothes from different second hand shops here has been fun, unfortunately my thought that all germans were into natural wool and especially for baby stuff was wrong. we have had a really hard time finding wool anything for babies. the 2nd hand store owners laugh or giggle at us and say how old fashioned that is and how NO ONE does that anymore, or its passed through the family not to second hand...bummer.
and trying to find middle colors too is relatively difficult as so much of the clothing is light blue with cars or light pink with frilly things.
The news of the last day is that we have found a place to live and for ralf to work! its exciting because it is a little village and work ralf will be doing is restoring and fixing up the 1600 yo house we will be living in. it currently has 3 rooms on the bottom floor where we will start living this next week. fixing and making livable the fourth room is ralfs first task, so it can be our bedroom. the house is in really good shape for its age, and the man who owns it owns and or rents a few of the other houses in the village for all of the antiques he collects and fixes to sell on ebay! they seem nice enough and are ok with us getting goats and chickens and making a garden for ourselves. the place has a magical feel to me and i am excited to start creating an herb and veggie garden and getting ready to have a goat to love and milk.
The process to get on the same insurance plan has been taking a long time, and soon hopefully it will be finished, gaining the ability to start the language course soon. i am ready!!
In the meantime, my belly is expanding, 19 weeks as of yesterday, and baby is kicking often, especially as we settle down for bed in the evenings. its so exciting, maybe not the stretch marks or the tight pants but the crazy cravings are interesting.
if you want to post a comment, go right ahead, i think it is in german, but still resembles the english word-kommentare- because i set it up on a german computer first. Some people have emailed me too, and that is great as well, i will still have email and facebook!

Freitag, 11. September 2009

Of interest this week, we went to apply for a residence permit for me as a family member of ralf to live here in germany and had a grand time being told i need to take a 600 hour course in german, along with 30 hours of social and cultural learning. so we had to quit the other class i registered for and are waiting to hear back about insurance plans and coverage for me in germany. yipee

laying on the floor reading books i can feel the pressure of the baby and sometimes it moving, especially when ralf plays drums.
everything is so different, and i enjoy it. for example:
the majority of cars look like ones from toy story, maybe especially ours which we have named green eucalyptus in german. the cars here make me want to giggle constantly as i always think i will see the pig and tour barbie driving one, maybe even buz light year or woody themselves.

the windows mostly open from the top inwards rather than the sides, but some as i learned a few days ago can be switched to open from the side with a turn of a lever. ingenious!!

the bells of the village church ring every hour helping to remind you of the time of day. i liked this in france too.

i love the toilets seats and bathroom stalls in germany. they feel so much more comfortable and are more round than oval. the stalls are so much longer, like you actually have a private room, and seem so much stronger.

things i dont like:
you have to pay for most bathrooms out and about, especially frustrating for me as i feel my bladder cant last more than two hours at a time.
you dont get water for free at restaurants. you have to pay for everything. and almost everywhere you are not allowed to BYO. ouch!!

yesterday we climbed to the top of a tower which used to be a military lookout but is now open for hiking around and up looking over the entire region where we are right now.
We went into a small village, one which ralf said had the best and oldest butcher around and had food-ralf a curry wurst and me liver that had been chopped up finely and was in a sauce. fries with mayo is the way to be in germany...very interesting.

We also purchased a mobile USB stick to have internet where ever we are at ALDI a pretty common store. We have found quite a good selection of gluten free things and ralf has done really well, up until last night when noodles were in the soup and we didnt think of it until a few
hours afterwards. oops!
I have been sneezing alot- and have had alot of congestion since we arrived. and ralf got worms some how...uh oh. so he has been eating alot of garlic and seeds from squash trying to get rid of it naturally. but they aren't gone yet.

some photos are attached of recent activities like visiting a castle and and the rhine river valley.
if you need to reach us we can be found by mail and telephone here:

Jessica Linnenkohl + Ralf Sandrock
Rotenhainer Strasse 13
56244 Woelferlingen

+49 2666488
love to all

Castle at Cochem

Montag, 7. September 2009

Here we go!

Given the number of requests to turn this into a blog rather than just emails, i thought now would be the best time to start running with it.
we landed yesterday in germany and were picked up by Rolf, Ralfs father around 8am.
We arrived at his parents house located in a small village way out in the country. pretty much i love it here. I love his family who although they only speak german-a few know some english- have been so welcoming and excited to meet me and see ralf back home. His mother had prepared a lovely brunch and as each brother (2) and sister came in shared the news with the´-this is my pregnant wife! they were all thouroughly shocked yet were so happy too.
I feel i am already having such a positive immersion into the language, his mother is wonderful. i love his parents so much. their eyes have such a beautiful twinkle to them and their attitudes are light and humorous, always looking to make a good joke.
I took a walk this morning to greet the sun and strech and see a little more of where we are. all around there are forests mingled with open farm land. its so beautiful. i took a path up a hill and sat in the glowing sunshine, reveling in the warmth of the area and happiness i feel here.
Only a few things could make it better:
having a place where
-i can fully unpack every box and put things on shelves and organize it all,
-we will stay for more than 6 months
-i can take walks like this mornings every day
-small organic farms, preferably biodynamic
-a (or multiple) goat that i can love and milk and make cheese from soon.

i feel so well, so happy. and while i know so little of the language it really feels ok. when i really need to understand something i can look to the dictionary or ralf. otherwise i take in all the words i hear and am trying to repeat and learn how to speak with his parents.
Ralfs youngest niece spent this afternoon with us after her half day of kindergarten, i alreay love her so much and she hasnt hit an age where she recognizes i dont understand most of what she says so she is one of my best teachers.
all the cars are so much smaller, the roads much more windy and the landscape very green.
we send our love to each of you and thank each of those we were able to share time with in seattle and philly.
peace and joy. and visit soon!